An auto insurance rate task force had its first meeting to address the state’s incredibly high insurance rates. The commission, appointed by State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is composed of leaders from multiple industries, as well as state officials, and legislators. River Ridge Representative Kirk Talbot says the task force wants to address the elephant in the room keeping insurance companies away.

“They won’t write insurance here if they can’t make money. The damage awards are in a lot of cases double what they are everywhere else, so it costs insurance companies twice as much to do business here.”

Louisiana has the highest auto insurance in the nation, while neighboring Mississippi sits at 22nd highest, and Alabama at 30th highest.

He says along with looking at Tort Reform, and distracted driving legislation that could help cut costs for insurance companies, they’ll also be addressing a quirk of Louisiana law that leaves the state a notable outlier.

“Louisiana is one of the few states where when you get in a car wreck, the jury cannot hear whether you were wearing your seatbelt or not when they are awarding damages.”

Efforts to address insurance rates by attacking distracted driving and allowing seatbelt information into court proceedings all crashed and burned during the regular legislative session in spring. Talbot says he’s more optimistic this time do to a rising appreciation from legislators on both sides of the isle about how insurance rates hit the working class, which is least able to afford the thousands of dollars in additional yearly costs associated with insuring in Louisiana.